Tuesday, April 19, 2005
What Really Happened
Debriefing Scalia by _NONE [posted online on April 18, 2005] Editors' Note: Justice Antonin Scalia got more than he bargained for when he accepted the NYU Annual Survey of American Law's invitation to engage students in a Q&A session. Randomly selected to attend the limited-seating and closed-to-the-press event, NYU law school student Eric Berndt asked Scalia to explain his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that overturned Bowers v. Hardwick and struck down the nation's sodomy laws. Not satisfied with Scalia's answer, Berndt asked the Justice, "Do you sodomize your wife?" Scalia demurred and law school administrators promptly turned off Berndt's microphone. As Berndt explains in his post to fellow law school students, it was an entirely fair question to pose to a Justice whose opinion--had it been in the majority--would have allowed the state to ask that same question to thousands of gays and lesbians, and to punish them if the answer is yes. We reprint Berndt's open letter below. END QUOTE.
My problem with the assertion of the next-to-last sentence is that the state won't just ask that same question to thousands of gays and lesbians. As if gays and lesbians are automatically easy to spot in the population, as if their practices are really that visible. No, that same question is something that Scalia wants the individual, regardless of orientation, to answer when asked by police, the government, and the public. In short, Scalia wants the individual to be totally accountable to the institutions of religion & government for every sexual act he or she commits. Scalia has opened the possibility in his thinking. He is a coward to refuse to answer the question. It is this which makes the question relevant in a legal sense.
What I want to see is more people of various orientations asking Scalia the same question. To see a gay man do it is inspiring. To see various members of the public do it every time Scalia chooses to make a speech or show his face would be better than inspiring. It might be effectual.